Saint Leo University alumnus Jamal Lowe had served for seven years in the U.S. Navy, an experience he says prepared him "for just about any obstacle that a man could face."

That was until his senior year at Saint Leo when he encountered a financial emergency – an unexpected delay in his veterans' benefits – and faced possible eviction from his home.

"My semester began with a desperate feeling of neglect and betrayal and thoughts of living on the streets," he says, until the morning he received a call from Dr. Jose Coll, director of the university's Office of Veteran Student Services, with an offer of temporary financial assistance.

Administered through the Office of Veteran Student Services, the Veteran Student Emergency Fund provides limited financial assistance to currently enrolled students facing an unforeseen hardship that could have a direct negative impact on their educational status.

The types of expenses that may be covered include:

  • Costs related to medical care such as prescriptions/medications>
  • Assistance with rent, mortgage or utilities
  • Childcare expenses that could cause the student to drop classes
  • Car or insurance payments
  • Food or gas

Saint Leo community gives back to veteran students

The Veteran Student Emergency Fund was established in 2013 as part of a special campaign called "40 Dollars/40 Years" conducted during Saint Leo University's 40th anniversary celebration of educating service men and women.

"The response to this effort was amazing," said Dr. Coll. "Approximately $12,000 was raised during the 48-hour campaign. We would like to continue to grow this fund so we can help any Saint Leo veteran student who faces an unexpected financial hardship."

Requests for assistance are approved and managed by the Office of Veteran Student Services. The office serves as the focal point for resources and support for veteran and active military students who are attending classes at University Campus, a center, or through the Center for Online Learning.

"Our goal is to get funds into the hands of a veteran student as quickly as possible," says Dr. Coll, "ultimately within 48 hours of receiving the request."

Core values of community and responsible stewardship in action

According to Dr. Coll, in the spirit of Saint Leo's core values of community and responsible stewardship, any veteran student who receives assistance from the fund is asked, but not required, to make a pledge to return any unused portion of the monies received back into the fund.

To request assistance or make a contribution

To apply for assistance, veteran students can submit an online request via the Saint Leo University portal. To Visit our military and veterans benefits page.

The fund is entirely dependent on donations. To make a contribution, contact Elizabeth Barr, associate director in the Saint Leo Annual Fund Office at (352) 588-8824 or you can make a gift online.

"These brave men and women have sacrificed so much for this great nation in our time of need," says Dr. Coll. "It is an honor to be part of this program to help them in their time of need."

Do you know a Saint Leo veteran student who is going through a financial hardship? Please contact the Veteran Student Services Office.

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

5 Most Common Questions About Military Education Benefits

Saint Leo Remains Among Top Military-Friendly Colleges

Saint Leo Ranks Among Top Online Degree Programs For Veterans

Saint Leo Receives 2014 Military Friendly Schools Designation

Image Credit: Saint Leo University: "For Those Who Serve," University Campus